Problems with others in the industry
I am regularly called by veterans and families expressing concern about other medal mounters. There is at present no national standard for medal mounting and pretty much anyone can set up shop as a medal mounter.
Some do an acceptable job however many do not. Whether they mount medals insecurely, use inadequate amounts of ribbon, or even simly just use non acid free materials (which mean adhesives bleed through ribbons after a short period) some of the work out there leaves a lot to be desired.
Sadly there are some people in this industry who will either take advantage of veterans and their families or who are downright criminal by either keeping medals or switching real ones with replicas.
NZDF do have a medal mounting standard which I assisted in the preparation of, however firms not undertaking NZDF work don't have to adhere to it - and even then its not a guarantee of quality.
MOST OF OUR RIBBON IS MADE EXCLUSIVELY FOR US - AS ARE SOME OF OUR REPLICAS. WE DO NOT SELL BITS OF RIBBON AND THE LIKE SO AS TO MAKE IT DIFFICULT FOR DIY MEDAL MOUNTERS.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, however here are some indications that medal mounting or framing has gone wrong:
1. your costs are more than about NZ$35 per medal for mounting
2. you are paying a significant amount of money for replica medals. (ie: more than about $80-$100 per medal - we charge $50 including mounting costs except for enamelled or solid silver medals)
3. you have sent your medals to someone who sends you a demand for payment before the work is completed (a deposit on work where replica medals are supplied is however normal practice).
4. costs keep increasing. (our prices are fixed at the time of our first discussion with you)
5. you express concern to this person and are threatened with defamation or legal proceedings. He will often allege slander - even though this term is technically no longer in use in NZ courts.
6. you are being charged excessive research fees to work out medal entitlements. We can tell you a WW1 medal entitlement in under a minute for free.
DAMAGE CAUSED TO MEDALS BY UNSKILLED MOUNTERS
A common problem with unskilled mounters is the grinding back of medals and clasps to get them to sit flat when mounted side by side and when overlapped.
In this case an unskilled medal mounter has ground off the clasp and its carriage and has then glued the clasp to the centre of the ribbon. This is the wrong place for the clasp for a start and moreover he has vandalised a $3000 medal which is now worth nothing. The mounter below was paid for by NZDF so just because your medals have been paid for whilst you are serving and the work undertaken by an "approved" mounter is no guarantee of quality.
Below is how the clasp should have been left on the medal. It is also worth noting that he has the miniature clasp on the UN Medal above not the correct full sized one as appears below.
The GSM clasp is attached to a carriage which is affixed to the suspender. It should not be ground off for any reason. If the ribbon of the adjacent medal overlaps the clasp that is perfectly acceptable.
Examples below are shown as instances of grinding of the clasp of the medal by an unskilled medal mounter. In most cases the medal is significantly or completely devalued. Whilst the medals shown are all relatively recent awards I have seen the same damage done to Crimean War and Boer War Medals. If someone has vandalised your medals in this way that have ruined their value. There is no reason or excuse to damage medals such as this. Whilst I will not be naming those who undertake this practice on this website if you have any queries as to whether the person who last mounted your medals is one of them please email me and I will gladly assist.
The worst thing which has been happening as a result of this is that people have been getting the damaged medal/s replaced by the NZDF. A replacement medal is worth even less than a damaged medal. In many cases we can arrange to have the damage repaired so it cannot be detected and the value of your medals is uneffected. And then you could seek to reclaim those costs from the party responsible.
This unskilled mounter has actually ground back the suspender of the Operational Service Medal to get it to sit flat against the medal before it. So now a $250 medal is worth nothing.
The front of this medal was ground down to facilitate mounting. A total lack of skill by this now deceased South Auckland based medal mounter - Jeff Waters. Mr Waters resisted requests to stop damaging medals and sadly was undertaking work for not only the NZDF but also various associations and other medal mounting firms. The damage he caused over a period of perhaps 15 years is incalculable. Sadly he was a Vietnam veteran and was therefore supported and endorsed by the veteran community. In more recent years NZDF even arranged for the clasps to the NZGSM to be changed to make them sit flatter - to try and prevent damage of this nature. I am only naming Waters as there are two other South Auckland based medal mounters who have requested that they now be confused with him.
SUBSTANDARD MEDAL MOUNTING
The Medal Mounting shown below is illustrated on the site of a picture framing firm who offers medal mounting as well. The firm seems to relish in criticising our framing with factually incorrect and misleading statements so its only appropriate that we address their very poor standard of medal mounting.
For one, the ribbon should only extend half way under the medal. The medal ribbon is in this (and many others on their site) visible at the bottom of the medal. See our medal mounting photos for how the medals should appear if properly mounted. Also note the poor and very uneven alignment of the ribbons along the top of the mounting. They are all over the place and this is also very unprofessional and of a poor standard. This firm make a big thing about the fact that they do NZDF work and that they use ribbon from a firm in business for 300-400 years. The firm is Toye Kenning Spencer in the UK and most mounters get their ribbon from them, but all the good materials in the world can't make a poor mounter a good one. What is the point of spending a lot of money framing your medals if they look awful inside the frame, or having them mounted badly.
We have digitally removed the name of that Upper Hutt business from the lid of their box so as not to cause them more shame than their lack of workmanship already does.
THE THEFT OF MEDALS BY MEDAL MOUNTERS
The switching of real medals with fake ones by medal mounters is an emerging issue. When we accept your medals for mounting at our premises you are given a receipt on which we confirm that the medals we are receiving are genuine and free of defects (and if they are not we will state so). Thus, if there are issues later on regarding the authenticity of your medals we are both covered.
We recently had a client who discovered that a previous mounter had switched his fathers WW1 gallantry medal to the Maori Pioneer Batn with a replica (of the wrong period).
We have had a number of recent clients whose Operational Service Medals and New Zealand Service Medals (1946-49) were found not to be genuine - yet they gave genuine medals to their previous medal mounter. All these medals are now issued named so the issue should diminish as a problem, yet still there are tens of thousands of already issued un-named medals out there.
TVNZ's FAIR GO has commendably tackled this issue head on and has sought an expert opinion from us as to whether certain medals it brought to us were genuine or not.
The show was self explanatory. However if you have medals and are concerned as to whether they are genuine or not, or whether they have been damaged by a medal mounter during the mounting process, then you are welcome to bring them to us (by appointment) for a verbal opinion or to courier them to us (you will need to either include $6 to cover return courier costs or to include a courier bag for return postage) for an opinion.
Here is one such set of medals brought to use recently and which we have now suggested that they refer to the Police. We illustrate this in order to help you identify if you have a possible issue with your medals.The medals look fine initially. Not a great mounting job and not correctly spaced but perfectly presentable. They would have a value to a collector of around $3500.00
You can see in the images above and below that the NZ Special Service Medal has a grainy edge. The genuine one does not.
In this image above you can see a cast mark on the rim of the Operational Service Medal. The genuine medal is die struck with a perfectly flat edge, and so clearly this is not a genuine medal. Some other better quality replicas have a rounded edge.
If a medal mounter has had your medals for more than a couple of months and you are getting the run around from them then refer the matter to the Police. We are often suddenly unexpectedly busy - which can lead to unexpected delays, especially concerning framing, but will always be able to give you an update on your medals.
If your medals have been damaged by an unskilled medal mounter then you will be entitled to seek compensation from the party responsible via the Disputes Tribunal - which I would strongly recommend. This is the only way the practice will be stamped out - if those responsible are made to pay for the damage they have caused. Of the 200 or so NZGSM we mounted in the past few months around 70% had been damaged by a previous mounter. I would suggest that over the past 10 years the damage to the nation's medal collection (and by that I mean medals held by families and veterans) has been significant and would exceed several million dollars. This practice still continues.